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NEWS: Muskrat Falls dam to power mines

The processing of nickle mined in northern Labrador will destroy Sandy Pond in Newfoundland.

The processing of nickle mined in northern Labrador will destroy Sandy Pond in Newfoundland.

CTV reports, “Providing cut-rate power to mining companies in Labrador should not be a prime reason for developing the Muskrat Falls hydro megaproject, says a growing cast of critics. Skeptics of all political persuasions are warning that residential ratepayers could wind up paying for industrial expansion, and they want the Progressive Conservative government to make power purchase deals public. The (provincial) government and its Crown corporation, Nalcor Energy, have promoted Muskrat Falls (but) they’re waiting on a promised federal loan guarantee (from the Harper government) that could shave hundreds of millions of dollars off borrowing costs, and an arm’s-length assessment from Manitoba Hydro International before the government decides whether to approve the project.”

“The average domestic rate (per kilowatt hour is) about 11 cents (for individuals). Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s interim industrial rates — adjusted for such variations as fuel cost, load and rural rates — are about two to three cents per kWh for companies such as Teck Resources Ltd. and Vale Newfoundland and Labrador Ltd. Teck Resources owns a copper and zinc mine in central Newfoundland and Vale operates the Voisey’s Bay nickel mine in northern Labrador.” Vale is now building a $2.2 billion plant – to be completed in 2013 – that will process nickel from their operations in Voisey’s Bay and dump approximately 400,000 tonnes of tailings annually into Sandy Pond, a 30-hectare freshwater lake. “Government rhetoric in support of Muskrat Falls has in recent months highlighted potential mining projects in Labrador West.”

“Brendan Sullivan, a St. John’s businessman and former provincial government economist, says average ratepayers should not have to subsidize mining corporations. Since the project was first announced in November 2010, he said he has listened to the government’s messaging on Muskrat Falls shift from domestic power needs to export possibilities to increasing demands from mining interests.”

“(Muskrat Falls is) expected to generate a maximum of 824 megawatts by 2017.”

For more on Muskrat Falls, please see this recent blog, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16837.